The smelly, sometimes painful side of weight loss

Losing weight is wonderful but changing how you eat might be socially irresponsible! Nobody wants to talk about the smelly little secrets that often accompanies changing what you eat to lose weight. This blog specifically addresses flatulence and constipation, but if you’re having a problem with bad breath or diet halitosis, click here.


Flatulence or gas is embarrassing! It’s difficult to suppress and tends to attack at the most inappropriate times. If you’ve ever experienced uncontrollable flatulence because you’re following a healthful weight loss food plan with lots of fruit and vegetables, you probably wonder if there’s anything you can do to avoid it.

An abrupt change of diet always comes with the risk of gas. Switching from a diet of mostly processed foods to a mostly plant-based food plan can be a major upset to the digestive tract causing bloating and gas. This usually resolves itself with time after your body gets used to eating high-fiber foods.

Broccoli, cauliflower and onions are particularly likely cause embarrassing flatulence. Try cutting them one out of your diet, one by one, to see if it helps. Going through a process of elimination you might be able to discover what foods are causing most of your gassy issues. By avoiding those foods or reducing how much of them you eat might relieve the problem.

There are also anti-gas over-the-counter products, such as Beano, to help alleviate gas. You need to take it before you eat foods that cause gas. It helps avoid gas but it can’t stop it once you’re having problems.

The other digestive upset that sometimes accompanies losing weight is unexpected.


It doesn’t seem to make sense that eating more fiber and vegetables will cause constipation. We’d expect the opposite and indeed, some people do have loose stools.

Constipation is hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. It’s painful! There are several reasons why diet or dieting can lead to constipation including:

  • A change in what and/or how we eat
  • Skipping meals or an erratic eating schedule
  • Drinking too little water
  • Increasing fiber intake too drastically

Losing weight usually means vast changes to what and how we eat. That can trigger constipation. Once your body gets used to the new way you’re eating, you should get relief from constipation.

Strategies to avoid constipation

  • Eat SlowerEating slower is more than just a way to recognize satiety before you’ve eaten more than enough to be “full.” Slowing down your eating might also reduce problems with gas. People who eat fast often swallow extra air which leads to more gas.
  • Scheduled Eating. Erratic eating patterns are a cause of gas and constipation. Skipping meals as a weight loss strategy is not a good idea. Try to eat at about the same time each day to help alleviate both gas and constipation
  • Eat the Right Diet. Your weight loss diet may not be balanced. It should consist of adequate fiber and healthy foods that provide needed vitamins and minerals.
  • Adequate Water. Water is an important element to keep the bowels functioning properly. Drinking fluids with your meals also increases the production of gas for many people.
  • Move to Keep Things Moving! Exercise helps constipation by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. That will limit the amount of water absorbed from the stool into the body.  Aerobic exercise accelerates breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. Intestinal muscles that contract efficiently help move stools out quickly.

Nobody said losing weight wasn’t without its challenges. Although you might have thought the challenges were going to be reducing your calories and increasing your physical activity level, be prepared for some challenging digestive upsets too.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.